And it came to pass in those days… (Luke 6:12), that is, in the context of my present study those days fall within the seven day festival of the Feast of Tabernacles. In the larger context it needs to be remembered that all of these days mentioned in Luke 4-5 incorporate the days in which Jesus was in the wilderness of people (Ezekiel 20:35), being tempted on three fronts: to give the people what they wanted—when they wanted it (Luke 4:3), to perform miracles according to the will of those demanding the signs (Luke 4:9-11), and to take the reins of leadership by force (Luke 4:5-7) and, through such mighty power, to compel men (including enemies) to obey. During those days Jesus craved communion with his Father, where he was fed (spiritually), while he remained in the wilderness of people—a wilderness of unbelief.
In those days Jesus prayed concerning the twelve, whom he intended to choose to be with him during his public ministry (Luke 6:13). He also may have mentioned the hard hearts of the Jewish authorities, and the people (ordinary Jews), whose faithlessness the doctrines of their leaders enabled. Jesus tells us that God always hears Jesus’ prayers (John 11:41-42).
It is interesting to see how the Father answered Jesus’ prayer. He gave him ordinary men who didn’t show themselves special in any way, aside from the fact that they were the Father’s and Jesus’ choice. In fact, the greatest of them (in a worldly sense) might be Matthew, who would have been considered an outcast in normal Jewish circles (Luke 6:14-16). They were men who boasted of their loyalty (Matthew 26:35), connived for positions of authority and debated who among them should be allowed to hold the greatest positions (Mark 10:37; Luke 22:24). Simon Peter, the leading member of the group, would deny ever knowing Jesus (Matthew 26:72, 74), while the one entrusted with the group’s funds (John 12:4-6) was so greedy that he secretly plotted to betray Jesus into the hands of his enemies for money (Mark 14:10-11). Finally, during the time of Jesus’ great crises each and every one of the them forsook him, leaving Jesus to his fate at the hands of his enemies (Mark 14:50).
Nevertheless, not once did Jesus ever complain about the men he chose on this day, but loved each one of them until the very end (Matthew 26:50; John 13:1). Yet, Jesus wasn’t ignorant concerning the disciples weakness. In fact, from the very beginning of Jesus public ministry, from these days, concerning which Luke unveils for our consideration (Luke 4:to 6), Jesus knew who believed and who didn’t, and who would end up betraying him into the hands of his enemies (John 6:64).
I believe understanding this serves to give us peace, in that Jesus was never looking for perfect people or those whom the world holds up to honor. The fact is that following Jesus is like living out a paradox. Jesus doesn’t need great ability in men, because he supplies the power for his disciples to do the things he sends them to do (cf. Luke 24:49; Matthew 28:18-20; John 14:16-17, 26). Rather, Jesus’ representatives are called into a new creation where the old ways of doing things have no power. Force and power must give way to patience and service. Naming it and claiming it must give way to simple trust that God will care for us in his good time. Finally, what we think we know about God, must give way to letting God unveil himself to us in ways that have never come to our minds or entered into our hearts (1Corinthians 2:9).